Stereoscope was produced by Kentridge’s unique process of animation. For each film sequence, the artist begins with a single charcoal drawing, which he modifies either by additions or erasures. Each alteration to the drawing is photographed to become one frame of his animated film. The film is therefore the result of thousands of changes to a few drawings. Kentridge’s narratives are grounded in the recent politics of his native South Africa but are also personal works. The work’s protagonist, Soho Eckstein, a pinstripe-suited businessman, is based on the artist’s grandfather but resembles the artist physically. The labor-intensive filmmaking process, visible to the viewer in the finished work, becomes a metaphoric parallel to the deliberate acts of effacement and remembrance that characterize South Africa’s post- apartheid state. In this newest film, Kentridge references the stereoscope, a photographic device that produces the illusion of a three-dimensional image by combining two pictures of a single subject taken from different points of view.
William Kentridge was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1955. He attended the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (1973–76), Johannesburg Art Foundation (1976–78), and studied mime and theater at L’École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq, Paris (1981–82). Having witnessed first-hand one of the twentieth century’s most contentious struggles—the dissolution of apartheid—Kentridge brings the ambiguity and subtlety of personal experience to public subjects that are most often framed in narrowly defined terms. Using film, drawing, sculpture, animation, and performance, he transmutes sobering political events into powerful poetic allegories. In a now-signature technique, Kentridge photographs his charcoal drawings and paper collages over time, recording scenes as they evolve. Working without a script or storyboard, he plots out each animated film, preserving every addition and erasure. Aware of myriad ways in which we construct the world by looking, Kentridge uses stereoscopic… read more